By on October 14, 2019

We’ve got an addendum for our latest story on how automakers should view Harley-Davidson as a cautionary tale. The company, which recently began exploring electric motorcycles as a way to boost sales and spur public interest, recently told dealers not to expect deliveries of its newest model.

The $29,799 LiveWire that was supposed to start re-arriving this month is again delayed.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the manufacturer claims there’s an issue with the all-electric bike’s charging equipment — something that will obviously need to be addressed before it goes on sale. As a result, H-D is pulling the production plug on the two-wheeled EV.  (Read More…)

By on October 10, 2019

Industry analysts are becoming concerned that General Motors’ ongoing row with the United Automobile Workers will negatively impact its production commitments. Officially, the automaker has a surplus allowing it to endure strike conditions for a few more weeks. But it’s also supposed to preparing SEMA vehicles and readying production of the new, mid-engined Chevrolet Corvette Stingray — none of which have any back catalog to draw from.

While GM had 80 days worth of inventory at the start of October to help tamp down any panic, numerous models aren’t included in that pool. The C8 Corvette is supposed to launch this year, with volumes ramping up through early 2020. But orders for the outgoing C7 are backing up due to the UAW strike, requiring the automaker to finish those before retooling Bowling Green Assembly for the C8. That could further stall the Stingray’s arrival date, which was already a little nebulous.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  (Read More…)

By on October 9, 2019

The French media is reporting that Renault CEO Thierry Bolloré could be removed as part of a greater initiative to clean house within the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. As usual, the cornerstone of the controversy stems from the executive’s close ties to Carlos Ghosn.

That relationship makes him suspect, as numerous high-ranking employees at Nissan are currently under suspicion of having helped or benefited from the alleged financial misdeeds surrounding the ousted chairman. In fact, the Japanese automaker had to select a new CEO in short order after information emerged implicating former corporate head Hiroto Saikawa — encouraging his September resignation.

Now there’s a campaign in place to distance the automaker from Ghosn-era hires and legacy staffers with deep links to him. Everyone expects Renault to do the same.  (Read More…)

By on October 9, 2019

While not the core focus of this website, we’ve often chronicled Harley-Davidson’s missteps as a way of predicting issues that might crop up for manufacturers specializing in four-wheeled transportation.

You see, the iconically American motorcycle brand has painted itself into a corner. By leveraging its established fan base, sales swelled through the 1990s. Unfortunately, the United States’ interest in motorcycles plummeted once the Great Recession hit. H-D was not exempt, enduring the worst of it as its stock price declined 42 percent over the last five years.

As the recessional dust cleared, rival manufactures panicked and shifted away from larger bikes aimed at experienced riders with more money to spend. Japanese companies began furnishing smaller, inexpensive models they hoped would encourage new riders. Harley Davidson waited longer to do this, launching two competitively priced, entry-level models that were still larger than seemed prudent.

Despite the industry seeing slightly improved volumes in the years following 2010, the last two have seen negative growth and annual sales totalling less than half of their pre-recession peak. Hoping to find new riders somewhere, H-D again shifted tactics by building child-sized scooters and the all-electric LiveWire.  (Read More…)

By on October 7, 2019

On Tuesday, a subset of Nissan’s board intends to request access to a list of 80 Nissan employees suspected of aiding former Chairman Carlos Ghosn in his alleged financial malfeasance. Assembled by Nissan’s former audit chief, Christina Murray, and company, the document compiles actions taken by staffers believed to have assisted Ghosn directly or attempted to impede the resulting investigations.

Among them is Hari Nada, Nissan’s vice president, who oversees the company’s legal department. Despite being instrumental in Ghosn’s November arrest by acting as a whistleblower to Japanese authorities, along with Toshiaki Onuma, his role as one of the ousted executive’s many confidants has placed him under suspicion — as did his reluctance to recuse himself from the company’s legal affairs.

Nada is now being pressured to resign. However, it’s not clear if this is the result of any actual wrongdoing or an internal power struggle happening inside the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. Considering the power vacuum created by Ghosn’s arrest and the swift retirement of ex-CEO Hiroto Saikawa (who also makes the 80-person list), both scenarios seem equally plausible.  (Read More…)

By on October 7, 2019

Last week we reported on the headway electric vehicles are making in the Netherlands, framing the situation as idyllic for EVs. Less picturesque for plug-in sales is India — a nation that has similarly attempted to encourage the proliferation of electric cars, but with unimpressive results. As it turns out, India makes a stellar counterpoint for worldwide electrification.

Based on the success EVs have seen over the last few years, you’d think the government was asking everyone to start eating hamburgers. Despite having a population of 1.34 billion people, with more of them becoming drivers every day, just 8,000 EVs have been sold in the nation over the last six years.  (Read More…)

By on October 3, 2019

The hunt for Nissan’s next chairman has been narrowed to three potential candidates. Their final challenge will be impressing Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard. According to reports, Senard spent the better part of Tuesday interviewing Renault-Nissan veterans — via teleconference or face-to-face meetings in Paris.

Considering the laundry list of problems Nissan currently faces, it’s difficult to imagine why anybody would want the job. Maybe it’s the sizable paychecks or perhaps an eagerness to turn things around at the automaker. Either way, whoever Nissan ends up with will have at least as much as they can handle.

Let’s take a look at the candidates.  (Read More…)

By on September 25, 2019

With California gearing up for a legal battle against federal regulators eager to revoke its fuel waiver, we knew it wouldn’t be long before another salvo was launched in the gas war. However, the latest skirmish is a bit personal. According to Automotive News, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler issued a letter to to California Air Resource Board chief Mary Nichols on Tuesday that framed the Golden State as unfit to dictate U.S. environmental policy.

The letter claims California has “the worst air quality in the United States” and a backlog of implementation plans to address ambient pollution standards surpassing every other state in the union.

California is scheduled to receive over $4 billion in annual federal highway funding this October. Now, the EPA is claiming the state failed to enforce the U.S. Clean Air Act. As a result, the Trump administration is threatening to withdraw those funds if the region doesn’t take immediately action on 130 different state implementation plans.   (Read More…)

By on September 24, 2019

Despite assuming the role of one of China’s most promising electric vehicle startups, NIO is struggling. The first quarter of this year was a mess. Worried about bad publicity stemming from battery fires, NIO recalled 4,800 vehicles ⁠— more than it sold in Q1. It also endured a noteworthy sales decline, a drop in share price, sold off its Formula E racing team, and announced it would cut around 10 percent of its workforce.

The situation has not improved for Q2. According to reports from the manufacturer, losses expanded 83.1 percent from the previous year to about 3.3 billion yuan ($463 million). Despite NIO’s recent addition of the ES6 crossover, Q2 sales were down 7.9 percent from Q1 ⁠— resulting in a grand total of 3,553 deliveries. NIO now believes it will have to sheer 20 percent of its workforce to save costs. (Read More…)

By on September 24, 2019

The American Automobile Association (AAA) suggests that long-term loans are encouraging ownership costs of new vehicles to climb. In some instances, the group suggests customers could be on the hook for well over $10,000 per year. While this only applies to larger and more expensive automobiles, AAA says the trend is all-encompassing — spurred largely by changing finance conditions.

According to AAA’s latest research, finance costs on new vehicle purchases have jumped 24 percent in 2019, elevating the average annual cost of car ownership to $9,282 ($773.50 per month).

“Finance costs accounted for more than 40 [percent] of the total increase in average vehicle ownership costs,” elaborated John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director for Automotive Engineering & Repair. “AAA found finance charges rose more sharply in the last 12 months than any major expense associated with owning a vehicle.”  (Read More…)

By on September 20, 2019

The European Union is keeping the possibility of retaliatory tariffs against the U.S. on the table should President Donald Trump follow through on threats to impose new duties on automotive goods.

European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom criticized Trump’s suggestion from May that EU cars and auto parts shipped into the American market posed a national security risk. The administration has issued a mid-November deadline to decide whether to not it’s worth trying to mitigate vehicle-related imports.

Why is this coming back up? November is fast approaching and, with the U.S. winning right to slap the EU with billions of euros in punitive fees thanks to the Airbus dispute, Europe is getting worried it’s heading for tariff town. Washington has already strongly hinted that it would follow through with tariffs if it won its case with the World Trade Organization and has prepared a broad list of EU products, including those stemming form the automotive industry.  (Read More…)

By on September 18, 2019

Nissan is reportedly interested in selling a subsidiary responsible for the distribution of machinery, vehicle parts, and raw materials in an effort to further streamline the troubled company. While no announcement of deal has been made public by the ailing automaker, Bloomberg cited insider sources who claim the company has already invited firms to bid on the entirety of Nissan Trading.

According to those involved, a buyer could be selected as early as October. The sources also stated that the deal’s $1 billion target valuation includes assumed debt.  (Read More…)

By on September 16, 2019

With Japan and the United States spending the better part of the summer discussing trade relations, there were minor fears that the island nation would become subject to new tariffs. Fortunately, most of the reporting on the matter showed negotiations to be productive, with President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe perpetually optimistic about the two countries’ relationship.

Last month at a Group of Seven Summit, the pair even claimed to be on the verge of signing a new agreement. According to Reuters, that will come without new fees on Japanese-made automobiles. (Read More…)

By on September 6, 2019

While Hyundai seems to have miraculously dodged labor strikes in South Korea this year, General Motors does not appear to possess the same good fortune. However, it would be difficult to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of Lady Luck.

GM’s been considering pulling out of the region over financial reasons for quite some time. In 2018, the automaker shuttered one of its four South Korean facilities — citing rising labor costs as the primary culprit. It’s also been losing money in the region for years. Hoping the company could be swayed from abandoning Korea like it did with Europe, the government floated General Motors 850 billion won ($712.85 million) in industrial aid.  (Read More…)

By on September 5, 2019

Mary Barra with Chevrolet Cruze, Image: GM

General Motors CEO will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump and White House officials on Thursday to discuss the state of the automotive industry, trade issues, and the fuel economy rollback. We imagine it’ll go much differently than their first meeting in Washington.

Perpetually concerned with economic threats arising from China, Trump has come down hard on automakers in the past. These days, his favorite punching bag happens to be GM. The automaker’s strong presence in China has forced it to make commitments there. On this side of the Pacific, the automaker has shuttered production facilities in Michigan, Ohio, and Maryland while continuing to manufacture vehicles in Mexico — something the UAW has been exceptionally critical of going into contract negotiations.  (Read More…)

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